I wake up. It is half past seven. It is a lovely morning, and the sun is shining. I quickly get up, step on the cool floor, and go to collect the morning paper from the mailbox. I can still sense the strong, earthy smell of the night. The noise of traffic tells me that the town is waking up and people are going to work. I make coffee and open the paper. There is no hurry. Or, actually, there would be no hurry, but I find it hard to get rid of my impatient nature.
I enjoy being able to start my day by reading the paper. But, of course, that is not possible. The brownish grey pile of fur meows and jumps lightly on the table. He stretches himself with evident enjoyment and settles down imperiously on my paper, as if to say, go ahead now and read your news. I brush off the hairs and lift his furry tail to get even a glimpse of the main news. The cat purrs, and I do not really want to push him away. Would this be a suitable unhurried moment to pet and scratch him? That’s what he is waiting for, anyway.
What I wrote above is my idea of what it would be like to wake up on the first day of my retirement. Would I have this experience on the first of August this year?
For two years I have been weighing the pros and cons of retirement. I have tried to imagine the mornings with no need to go anywhere, the days without the rhythm of class schedules and break times.
The idea of no daily rhythm has seemed a bit frightening. What if I cannot find anything meaningful to do? What if I just drift from morning to night, from one day to the next, year after year without accomplishing anything? If I cannot find challenges, will my brain lose its keenness and my thinking slow down? While pondering about all this, I have prayed that God would show me the way, because I do not know it myself.
Up till now it has seemed good to go on working, but as the spring wears on, I begin to feel differently. It would seem a relief not to need to start yet another academic year and to hang on to the constantly changing school practices. Flipped learning, multidisciplinary modules, assessment discussions, phenomenon-based learning – interesting new trends, but how can I find time to learn about them all?
But then again, I am afraid I will regress and lag behind if I retire. I will only use the old, familiar apps, unable to update those I have in my computer and phone. I have already lost touch with the social media language, especially its abbreviations. But no problem, let the kids laugh at me. And I will certainly miss the joking in the teachers’ room, the great moments I have with the students, and the inspiring training courses.
When I have shared my concerns about finding meaningful activities for my retirement, the friends who are already retired have given me good advice. No need to worry, they tell me, because retired people are always busy. One of them said that is probably due to the couple of hours one needs in the morning to wonder what to do. Then it is almost lunch time, and after that there is not much of the day left.
Another friend has joined a retirees’ organization and has been asked to serve as a support person: to accompany old people for medical appointments or teaching computer skills to seniors. Some have accepted positions of trust in society. Many retired teachers say they are available for subbing. A new opportunity is the rauhanyhdistys resource bank, where you can help individuals and families, or even serve as a substitute granny for a family.
The human life span begins at birth, reaches its zenith, and then declines into old age. Inevitably, we begin to lose our strength, walk more slowly, suffer from infirmities, and feel fatigue. When that happens, we should slow down and pause, experience freedom of thought. Trust that life can be meaningful even in old age. There will be more time to go on canoeing trips, enjoy nature and read. I guess I would also like to study something new.
The fact is that when you retire, you are a step closer to natural death, which is a frightening thought. But when you are finally very tired and fragile, it will be a relief to leave the responsibility for everything to others. It is comforting to think about the end of our temporal life, the eternal life that will follow, and the rest in Abraham’s bosom.
The answer to the question in the title will be given in March. I have promised to let the principal know about my retirement plans then.
Text: Aulikki Piirainen
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original finnish blog post here.
Jumala ei ole jättänyt luomakuntaa oman onnensa nojaan. Näin todettiin Suomen Rauhanyhdistysten Keskusyhdistyksen (SRK) vuodenvaihteen puhujienkokouksessa Jyväskylän rauhanyhdistyksellä. Luottamus Jumalan johdatukseen nousi esille monessa puheenvuorossa. Keskustelun johdannoksi kuultiin Esa Koukkarin pitämä alustus aiheesta Jumala on luomakunnan Herra.